Old-school subway signage on the IRT

I don’t know exactly when “uptown” and “downtown” each went from being spelled with two words to one, but I’m glad the MTA didn’t replace these subway mosaics whenever that happened.

There’s just something so charming about having the signs spelled the old-timey way, seen here at the 86th Street and Lexington Avenue station.

The spelling change must have occurred between 1918, when the 86th Street IRT opened, and 1940, when the Sixth Avenue and 14th Street IND subway station made its debut.

Because this mosaic, at 14th Street, spells uptown the modern way.

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5 Responses to “Old-school subway signage on the IRT”

  1. petey Says:

    is this really at 86th and lex? there’s no crossover, so you can’t go from the uptown to the downtown platform. i’ll pass it on the way home, will see what i can see.

  2. wildnewyork Says:

    I’m sure the second one is from 86th and Lex, and about 99 percent sure the first is too. But I’m snapping photos all the time and it’s certainly possible I got the second one at another station and totally blanked on it.

  3. Force Tube Avenue Says:

    Thanks for the photos. Speaking of “uptown” and “downtown”, along the BMT 4th Avenue line, these terms were originally “Brooklyn-centric”. By that I mean “Up Town” referred to the Bay Ridge direction, “uptown” Brookyn, and “Down Town” pointed you to Downtown Brooklyn. As recently as a couple years ago, these mosaics still were visible. I have photos.

    • wildnewyork Says:

      Thanks FTA, I had no idea! If you can send it links to the photos that would be great. The downtown Brooklyn neighborhood name survives but I’d never think of Bay Ridge as “uptown.”

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